Blog Global Health Center

The opportunity of a lifetime

Written by Marley Vogel, EMT-B, BS candidate in Human Development at Cornell University and participant in the 2021 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program

As a participant of the 2021 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public and Global Health Track, I have had the pleasure of being paired with a fantastic mentor to work on research with, Patrick Lyons, MD, MSc, Instructor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, School of Medicine.

Dr. Lyons contributes to Washington University in St. Louis in a plethora of ways, including as a Pulmonary/Critical Care Physician in the ICU at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and through his research in both the Institute for Informatics and the Institute for Public Health. His work is of particular interest to me as an aspiring Oncologist and Geriatrician.

In my short four weeks as a member of the Lyons Lab, I have been exposed to innovative research methods, helpful mentors and many new skills. To ensure my work is meaningful, yet attainable in the relatively short span of the program, Dr. Lyons and I worked on subsets of his larger research project that are relevant to both my interests and the goals of his investigation as a whole. Thus, we established an endeavor to verify the efficacy and validity of comorbidity indices, such as the Elixhauser Comorbidity Index and the Charlson Comorbidity Index. The Elixhauser Comorbidity Index was published in Medical Care in 1998 and populates scores for each patient based on which ICD codes they have been assigned. The Charlson Comorbidity Index was published in 1987 and assesses the 10-year survival and mortality risk in patients with several comorbidities. In both these cases, higher scores/percentages indicate adverse outcomes, adverse hospital metrics and a higher disease burden.

During my study of these indices, I used R-Studio to write the code that we are planning on using to calculate real patient scores with. This has been a very interesting experience, as I have never used R-Studio before, but as I now know, it is a crucial skill to have when participating in research and general public health inquiry. Despite this being a small step towards the Lyons Lab overall goal, I am seeing the true power of collaboration as a means to progress. My work contributes to Dr. Lyon’s ultimate aim: to create a new Electronic Health Record system using predictive modeling to manage negative outcomes in oncology patients before they occur. I am both honored, proud and excited to work on such groundbreaking research that has the potential for widespread implementation in hospitals across the world.